Thoughts Before A Trip

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Tomorrow we leave on an extended trip in the RV. We plan on visiting the Grand Canyon before traveling east in search of our new home. I jokingly call it “The Great Cross Country Home Hunt”, but it is, really. Great, I mean. As in “no small feat”. We’ll be crossing through many states, searching as we go through many cities, to find a place that we both could be comfortable living in for potentially the rest of our lives.

Today I had to do all of the usual pre-trip work. You know what I’m talking about. Grocery shopping for the trip and for the son who is apartment-sitting. Taking last minute things to storage and picking up suitcases. Cleaning. Baking. Running through all of my “Don’t Forget” list.

In addition to all of this, I’ve been on a crusade for the last several weeks to digitally scan all of the family photos that I’ve kept in shoeboxes, hoping that I will have them all in my computer before I leave. It was a good goal, but I’m falling short with mere hours left and an entire box yet to scan. Yesterday I uncovered some photos that my grandmother sent to me before she died, pics of me and my family from the late 60s and early 70s.

My sister and I in 1970 (I’m on the right)

Today I will get as many as I can scanned before dinner, but the rest will have to wait until…

When? I don’t know.

We envision at least two possibilities for this trip. For the first, if we find a house we like, make an offer, and it’s accepted, we leave the RV in storage, fly home and make arrangements to move. But if we don’t find a house within the first month, we could either return home or continue searching in other states. 

Why are we doing this? Many people would say “Go rent. See if you like an area before you buy.” But both of us are tired of moving. We’ve lived in many different cities and pretty much know when what makes us comfortable. We know we can’t stay in California AND continue to travel. It’s cost prohibitive.

The average median home price in our area is $311k, which will buy you either a pre-1990 home on a small piece of property or a mobile/manufactured home on a larger piece of property in a remote area of the county. Neither are what we want for retirement, although it may be perfect for a couple who are just starting out.

An affordable home in our town, this nice “fixer upper” was built in 1992 on 6000 sq ft of property. The home is 1300 sq ft and has 4 bedrooms. It’s priced at $250,000.
For comparison, here’s a 3 bedroom home near Chattanooga Tennessee. Selling for $219,000, it has nearly 2150 sq ft on 1 acre of property.

I am a little sad to leave the city we’ve called home. We first bought a home here in 1991, and although the town layout has essentially stayed the same (with the addition of a few major box stores and subdivisions), the “feel” of the town has not. For example, in 1991, I would not have witnessed the drug deal that I saw this morning taking place outside Walgreen’s. Not that the drugs weren’t here then; but dealing was kept to out of the way places. I also wouldn’t have had to navigate through a circle of homeless young people smoking pot as I walked from the city council parking lot to the downtown farmer’s market. There was a homeless population then, but it was much smaller than today, and didn’t consist of mostly younger people whom, I assume, are capable of working. The pot was around then, too, but not being smoked openly in cars during commuting hours, on the downtown sidewalks at 5 pm, or outside the grocery store at 10 am. 

So I think I’m ready to move out of California. I’m afraid that I’ve got this “ideal” place in my head, though. Will we be able to find a small town where drug deals take place somewhere where I don’t have to be around them, and where the smell of skunk isn’t lingering at store entrances? Someplace where I can still go to a farmer’s market without being harassed by panhandlers who are the same age as my twenty-something kids? 

Some place where a retired couple can find a nice home for $250k or less?

I guess we’ll find out.

 

 

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